5 Fresh Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving

Every family has their own way of celebrating, and with Thanksgiving on tap, it can be the perfect time to add a new twist to existing holiday rituals or start a brand new one this year.  Mighty Mommy has five fresh ways you can make your family’s Thanksgiving holiday even more special.

Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #405

The holiday season is probably the most popular time for family traditions. Traditions are the glue that keeps a family together. We all have busy lives, and adding a small tradition here or there can make all the difference in maintaining and strengthening your family bonds. Every family has their own way of celebrating and with Thanksgiving on tap, it can be the perfect time to add a new twist to existing holiday rituals or to start a brand new one this year.

Mighty Mommy has 5 fresh ways you can make your family’s Thanksgiving holiday even more special.

Switch up the turkey and fixings

Turkey and stuffing has long been the focal point of most Thanksgiving menus across the country.  According to a survey by the National Turkey Federation, an outstanding 88% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day. The average weight of turkeys purchased for Thanksgiving is 16 pounds, meaning that approximately 736 million pounds of turkey were consumed in the United States during Thanksgiving in 2015. Gobble gobble! 

If you’re like my family, you can’t wait to smell the heavenly aroma of the traditional roasted turkey on Thanksgiving Day, accompanied by the combination of homemade rolls, sweet potato casserole, and of course, a succulent pumpkin pie. However, this year you might try an entirely new way to prepare Tom Turkey, such as deep frying it in the backyard (we did this last year and it was simply one of the best turkeys we’ve ever eaten!) or even grilling it (think of all that room you’ll save in your oven that day).   In this article written by Tyler Wells Lynch, 10 alternative ways to cook a Thanksgiving turkey, you'll find some tasty ways to get creative with your bird!

And don’t stop there!  Even if you have a beloved stuffing recipe that’s been handed down for generations, you can even kick that up a notch if you’re willing to think out of the box (and if you do make stuffing right from the box, that’s OK too!).  Ever have stuffing made in a waffle iron?  In addition to deep-frying our turkey last Thanksgiving, we changed up many of our side dishes, including my grandmother's stuffing.  Check out this list of innovative ways to prepare your stuffing this year in this article called Turkey Day Hacks, 7 Alternatives to Traditional Stuffing.

Send thanksgiving cards

Sending holiday cards is a tradition I’ve loved ever since I became a mother 23 years ago. I openly admit I enjoy sharing photos of my kids with anyone and everyone who would like to take an hour, I mean a few seconds, to see how my kids have grown. When I started my family two decades ago, let’s not forget we didn’t have the avenues of social media available that we do now, so getting an actual photo card really was a treat for people.  Now, with Facebook and Instagram, our friends and family can enjoy our photographs instantly on a near daily basis. That’s why a few years ago I decided to switch it up and send my holiday cards out for Thanksgiving rather than Christmas. There’s something pretty special about expressing gratitude to the people who are important in your life, so why not let them know during the wonderful season of Thanksgiving? Get your kids involved in the design and wording! Two other great reasons to send Thanksgiving cards are that the people receiving them will have more time to enjoy your card because they aren’t getting bombarded with dozens of other cards, and you will free yourself up from the task of sending out holiday cards when the Christmas rush hits!

Send thankful letters

With our ability to shoot off an e-mail or text in an instant, long gone are the days of sending an old-fashioned letter. I’m not talking about sending or receiving a greeting card, I’m talking a piece of lovely stationery that is handwritten with a greeting such as “Dear Nana” etc. When was the last time you opened your mailbox and found something personal waiting for you?

Thanksgiving is a great time to have everyone in the family send just one letter to someone they care about. This could be a teacher, a babysitter, your boss, or the pizza guy you order from every Friday night. Help your kids express some of the things they are thankful for about this person. It doesn’t have to be long, something short and sweet such as “Dear Molly, I really feel lucky that you take care of my sister and I during the week after school.  You make doing homework fun.  Thanks for being our babysitter.  We love you and look forward to being with you. Love, Katie."

Personalize your tablescape

Surprise your family and guests with a personalized tablescape for Thanksgiving.  You can use fun and whimsical photo napkins such as this selection from etsy.  One year I took an ordinary centerpiece I had gotten from my local florist and inserted photos throughout of my family members that were joining us that year for dinner. This year I’ve purchased mini journals that will be placed at each guests seat (including my 8 children), so that we can begin our feast by taking a few moments to record some things we are thankful for.  That may seem a bit corny, but my hope is that my guests will continue this practice long after the last turkey sandwich has been eaten. One year I gave all my children and some family members who joined us for dinner a copy of How Full is Your Bucket?, written by Tom Rath.  This sweet story (perfect for adults as well!)  teaches us that each of us has an invisible bucket. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful. Yet most children (and many adults) don’t realize the importance of having a full bucket throughout the day.

RELATED: 8 Tips for the Perfect Thanksgiving Tablescape

These are just a few ideas to add some personal meaning and whimsy to your Thanksgiving table this year. And if you get your kids involved, their creativity can make these ideas even more special.  

RELATED: Preserving Family Memories

Start a new tradition on Black Friday

For many Americans, the tradition of Black Friday is an important part of their Thanksgiving Holiday. The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. Retailers draw large crowds by offering insane discounts on everything from toys to toasters and because of limited quantities, they lure customers out at the crack of dawn (or before) to take advantage of these whacky deals.

If you’re not inclined to head to the mall at 4 a.m. to score big, why not create some fun new ways to celebrate Black Friday at home instead? Believe it or not, my kids and I used to participate in the Black Friday madness and once in a while we got some neat buys but we usually purchased things that were on sale just because they were on sale! Now, we stay home and use this bonus day to make our gingerbread houses for the holiday season. We start the day with a big, homemade breakfast of omelets and blueberry pancakes and then get to work.  We also make a lot of our Christmas cookies that day as well.

Some families use this day as “couch and movie” day and just lounge in PJs and watch their favorite holiday movies. For others, they begin their holiday decorating. After all that turkey, it’s also a great day to take a brisk walk in the park or a hiking trail and enjoy some fresh air together as a family. Before Thanksgiving this year, sit down with your family and come up with a list of ideas of your own on how you can spend Black Friday. It will be something fun to look forward to in addition to those yummy, leftover turkey sandwiches.

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.